If you found yourself standing helplessly near your kitchen countertop with a whole chicken or bone-in meat chunk in front of you and nothing but a chef’s knife to break it down, it’s time you brought a meat cleaver home to help you out.
These practical kitchen utensils come in handy when a big dinner is just around the corner, and beef ribs are on the menu! Chopping briskets and seafood or delicately extracting a perfect strip of sirloin steak requires a cleaver.
So, if you want your meals to be flavorful to the tastebuds and appealing to the eyes, have a look at our best meat cleaver reviews and get one right away!
Things to Consider Before Buying Best Meat Cleaver
When it comes to meal preparation, you need a cleaver that is fast, sharp, and keeps in control while making thin, delicate cuts. And for that, you need to make sure that the cleaver you are about to buy has all of the features below!
The sharpness of a meat cleaver is one of the first things you need to see for all the right reasons. Hacking through a whole chicken with a blunt cleaver is the same as killing time and ordering pizza at the last minute.
Quality cleavers will have a hand-finished edge for premium sharpness. You also have to consider how well the cleaver can maintain its edge and withstand everyday use.
This is something that matters in every kitchen utensil ever. Superior craftsmanship and attention to detail matters in kitchen tasks because visual appeal is just as important as the taste. While a Japanese meat cleaver leads the way in this specific arena, German cleavers are also not lagging behind.
You can never go wrong with a triple-riveted handle, full tang, hand-sharpened blade with a strong bolster on a meat cleaver!
A marvelous sheen and sharpness don’t make the best kitchen cleaver; if anything, it is the handle design. Because you can always sharpen and bevel the blade. What you can’t do is change its handle profile.
An ergonomic handle is a top priority because it lets you maneuver the blade with ease. What we like about pakkawood handles is that they do not split or warp, which is pretty common in any other type of wood.
Hardness of Blade
While a 55+ Rockwell Hardness score suffices for a regular kitchen knife, you might want to take it up a notch and go for a 60+ HRC blade. You can also see it this way – if you do not like to work with a heavy knife, go for a harder blade because they are a bit slimmer and way lighter than the softer steel, thick blades.
Stainless steel is the top material knives are made of, and yet you can feel the variation in the blades of different companies, price range, and origin. It’s because they do not use the same quality stainless steel material or, worse – make something counterfeit.
Look for a high carbon stainless steel blade, preferably German-engineered or an original Japanese meat cleaver. You can choose Dexter Russell for high-quality US-manufactured cutlery and utensils.
An uneven weight distribution not only results in arm fatigue but also increases the chances of a mess up. Moreover, you cannot maintain precision with a cleaver that is heavy on the handle part and light on the blade stock part.
That said, a full tang blade will be our suggestion because it keeps the blade and handles snugly fit together for slicing meat and chicken in perfect, clean-cut shapes.
Making sure that the cleaver you buy is forged from a single piece of stainless steel or hand-sharpened later on is not enough. If you want your cleaver to last, you must check if they are heat-treated, liquid nitrogen tempered, and cooled afterward. Some meat cleavers will also have a non-reflective coating, which makes them non-stick.
A 3 step Honbazuke method during the manufacturing process is remarkable indeed because it gives the cleaver a brilliant 8° to 12° beveled edge for effortless chopping. All well-crafted meat cleavers will be expertly treated by bladesmiths or modern technology for a boost of durability and sharpness.
10 Best Meat Cleaver Reviews
We reviewed some top-notch meat cleavers in the market right now for making your selection an easy and well-informed one. Keep on reading!
Imarku 7-Inch Kitchen Cleaver
When it comes to slicing pieces of meat for that big family dinner, this glorious cleaver will give you the best comfort. You can chop, dice, mince or simply slice meat into your preferable sizes and prepare a chef-style meal right at home! Its high carbon stainless steel blade is extremely sharp, and it retains the edge for a long time.
The 2.5mm thick knife neatly slices any type of meat you’re working with; and the best part? You can use it for chopping large vegetables as well. If you pick your kitchen utensils wisely, then you surely have heard about imarku! It’s a trusted brand in kitchenware that uses high-quality German steel in all their knives.
Chefs across the world prefer imarku for an affordable yet ultra-sharp cleaver performance. You are also going to love its elegantly designed pakkawood handle that gives you better versatility with the knife. It helps in chopping large pieces of meat so that you can prepare the juiciest steak with the best cut.
Lastly, its large profile will help you transfer the diced and minced meat to another bowl for marinating or other purposes; it also gives you enough surface area to crush herbs and garlic! Poultry bones are no threat to its super sharp cutting edge. In short, this is the best kitchen cleaver that will be worth every buck!
Dalstrong 9-Inch Japanese Meat Cleaver
This premium cleaver is best left for the more experienced home chefs out there. It sure doesn’t look like the rectangular meat cleavers you see at the supermarket, but it’s an awesome workhorse of a knife that glides through thick pieces of ribs, fish, and poultry!
And it has a curved profile and a pointed tip like that of a knife; this feature helps in extracting the delicate parts of meat from bones. Its balanced profile and tip that curves inward are very efficient in reaching in between the joints. Their Shogun series knives feature the age-old 3 step Honbazuke method.
That said, it is a hand finished and mirror-polished cleaver with an 8-12° beveled cutting edge. Moreover, the 9-inch blade gives you better comfort in slicing bigger portions with a single, straight stroke.
What we loved about this meat cleaver is that both the handle and the blade are ergonomically designed for keeping the chef’s arm fatigue at bay.
The incredibly sharp AUS-10V Japanese steel achieved a 62+ Rockwell hardness; you already know how crisp the cutting performance would be considering that regular kitchen knives are only 55+ HRC.
Lastly, it has multiple layers of Damascus cladding for premium stain-resistance. The blade also received liquid nitrogen tempering that boosts its crystalline structure, strength, and flexibility!
Shun Classic 7-Inch Meat Cleaver
If you’re looking for a razor-sharp cleaver to amp up your salad game, this is the one. You are going to experience a restaurant-style finesse in your meals when you prepare them with the best vegetable cleaver by Shun Classic.
Let’s start with a heart-warming historical piece. In Japanese culture, the word “Shun” means the most flavorful and fresh seasonal or local food. Inspired from this concept, Shun Cutlery delivers hand-sharpened, premium knives to your doorstep so that you can make a sumptuous family meal full of the richest flavors!
Their VG-MAX steel core is an awesome upgrade from the previous VG-10 with a generous mix of carbon, cobalt, chromium, and tungsten for creating the “Super Steel” that slices through whatever meat and veg you throw at it. Its resin-infused, D-shaped pakkawood handle withstands water damage and rough use.
The 16° double-beveled cleaver cuts through solid chunks of meat and separates them from bones in quick, easy strokes. One problem cheap cleaver has is that they have a thicker blade stock because they are made of softer steel.
You will immediately notice how different the Shun kitchen cleaver feels in your hand because it uses hard, tempered steel. This way, it doesn’t need a thick stock. The cleaver is thus lightweight yet harder, thanks to its high quality, heat-treated blade!
Utopia 7-Inch Kitchen Meat Cleaver
This one-of-a-kind cleaver is all set to meet the demands of a commercial kitchen or a very busy home kitchen, delivering top-notch slices to your meat and veggies.
When you’re preparing an exclusive meal, you cannot think of anything without meat, fish, or poultry. And in order to serve your guests a steaming dish of beef stew or chicken curry, you ought to bring out the big guns.
Utopia Kitchen has an affordable cleaver that is going to rock your meal preparation and help you reach the chef style finesse in the comfort of your home.
For starters, this heavy-duty meat cleaver is made of 100% stainless steel. Its fine blade has a top-notch edge that retains sharpness over the long term before you even need a whetstone.
But what truly amazed us was its sleek, easy-grip handle. It allows a hassle-free wrist movement without feeling bulky in your hand. But you might need some time before getting used to its slim profile. Other than that, this Utopia Kitchen cleaver is dishwasher-safe. It was a much-needed feature for many of us.
Dalstrong 7-Inch Shadow Black Cleaver
This top of the class meat cleaver is forged by professional bladesmiths for all-around performance. Be it chopping down the densest bones or extracting thin slices of meat from delicate portions; this incredible cleaver does it all.
To begin with, the blade is given a sleek and aggressive look. It has a scalpel-like sharp edge that helps you to slice big chunks of meat in a short time. Thanks to the Honbazuke method, the cleaver is expertly beveled to 15° on both sides and cooled with liquid Nitrogen for achieving premium hardness.
Each cleaver from Dalstrong’s Shadow Black series comes with a non-reflective coating, which gives them a matte finish while increasing resistance to rust and corrosion. The Titanium Nitride coating also made this remarkable cleaver non-stick and robust.
And this is a unique quality, and truth be told, we haven’t seen many blades out there that look nearly as perfect as this one! Coming in an elegant black color, this cleaver would be the best knife you ever owned!
Next up, we have its top-notch craftsmanship to talk about; this Dalstrong meat cleaver was forged from a single piece of high-quality steel that adds to its overall durability. Not to mention, the full tang blade runs all the way through the end of the sleek, black handle.
That said, you get a blade that will never wobble nor fail in making chef style cuts in your next beef dish. Its military-grade G10 handle is textured and sports an expensive fiber-resin formula.
Thanks to this feature, you get a meat cleaver that won’t slip amidst a delicate cut. It comes with a matching black sheath for safety, and the cleaver is National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certified.
TUO Fiery Series 7-Inch Meat Cleaver
The best cleaver knife from TUO’s Fiery series will make sure that you cut mouth-watering sirloin strip steaks exactly how they are supposed to be. It can nail pretty much any meat or chicken dish you can think about!
Many times, you must have gazed at a steak wondering, “Why can’t I do it like that?” The most important part of getting a flavorsome steak is to get the right cuts. Otherwise, it’s just a random slice of meat! Here we present you the best Chinese cleaver you can get your hands on, and it’s no other than the TUO meat cleaver.
It is forged from top-quality German stainless steel. The blade reaches an outstanding 58 HRC after being vacuum heat-treated and cooled with liquid nitrogen in a High-Tec factory.
Finally, the powerful cleaver is hand-sharpened by professional knife smiths using the Honbazuke method! It means that each side of this cleaver is honed at 18-20° for unmatched sharpness and efficiency. The cleaver does a remarkable job at chopping, boning, and slicing.
Related: Best Boning Knife
You shouldn’t face any problem at all while hacking poultry bones or working your way through the ribs. The pakkawood handle is given an ergonomic shape for your comfort.
Moreover, the weight is balanced throughout its whole frame, thanks to the full tang blade and smart construction. That New Year’s meal preparation will take only a few swipes and chops of this premium cleaver!
Zelite Infinity 7-Inch Meat Cleaver
So, you have gone through a bunch of meat cleaver reviews, but their value is not something you would want to spend on a kitchen knife. Luckily for the occasional cooks out there, Zelite has a meat cleaver that fits your needs at a reasonable price.
This cleaver might not have a wooden handle or Damascus patterns on top of it but make no mistake, it’s cutting edge can slice veggies and meat like butter. You might struggle with harder bones at first, but once equipped with the right skills, you’ll be able to chop meat like a pro!
Zelite used ThyssenKrupp high carbon stainless steel in this Infinity cleaver. And the result? A brilliant cutting edge and hardness.
That said, this blade is not only stain and corrosion-resistant but also hard enough to make your preferable slices of meat, poultry, and fish for a delicious, visually pleasing meal. It can easily be the best meat cleaver for cutting bone. And the fact that it can cut a mighty coconut was enough to have us sold on this cleaver.
Moving on to the handle quality, black ABS is the material, and its durability matches that of a pakkawood one. The cleaver has a full tang blade, and it will feel more balanced and comfortable to maneuver through chunky cubes of meat at one go. 56+ HRC also suffices for a regular use cleaver.
Other than its super affordable pricing, the versatility of this cleaver makes it a top choice for regular households, culinary students, gift ideas, and so on.
Dexter-Russell 8″ Stainless Heavy Duty Cleaver
If you want to pick professional cutlery for your home kitchen, Dexter-Russell, the oldest and the largest US cutlery manufacturer, has all types of knives you can possibly name and more! So, sit tight for our Dexter-Russell cleaver review.
The brand has both forged and stamped knives in a diverse price range to fit the needs of not only households but also commercial kitchens. Their 8-inch meat cleaver is forged from high carbon steel with premium hardness. It also has a balanced weight so that you can practice knife tricks at home.
Whatever the chef’s knife cannot do, the cleaver does it with ease. But this heavy-duty blade does the best job at chopping. We are not talking about tender poultry bones only; this one hell of a cleaver splits up soft and dense bones alike.
You’ll get the best comfort while chopping ribs with this top-notch cleaver without a doubt! It has a flat blade tip with a slightly beveled edge for extracting neat cubes of meat.
On top of that, it has a generously wide surface for crushing garlic or moving diced veggies to a different bowl. Last but not least, its rosewood handle will make the cleaver look flattering in your kitchen.
Zelite Alpha 7-Inch Royal Meat Cleaver
This all-in-one cleaver by Zelite efficiently chops meat and veggies with outstanding sharpness and precision. It is going to be one of the best meat cleavers out there that you can buy for your home kitchen, and here’s why.
The Alpha Royal cleaver flaunts a triple-riveted handle. It makes the cleaver very easy to maneuver through thick chunks of meat, poultry bones, or big vegetables such as cabbages.
After all, the military-grade G10 material doesn’t falter in front of anything; so, you have one less thing to worry about while catering for an important dinner. The blade is 40% thicker than the regular blades in most cleavers. This increased toughness sure comes in handy when you have a big strip of beef on the cutting board.
Not to mention, the German ThyssenKrupp high carbon stainless steel blade has just the right amount of hardness, which gives the cleaver a much-needed versatility in the meal preparation arena.
Other than chopping small to big cubes of meat, you can easily unsheathe this super sharp and hefty cleaver for preparing a restaurant-quality salad in minutes! Speaking of sheaths, you are going to love its premium black leather sheath that keeps this precious cleaver safe and secured in your kitchen.
ZWILLING Pro 6-Inch Meat Cleaver
Forged from a single piece of high carbon stainless steel, this 6-inch cleaver will be the game changer in your daily food preparation. Be it chopping, slicing, or crushing, the cleaver delivers top-notch performance in all departments. It is a heavy-duty cleaver that you can rely on for everyday home use.
The high precision blade is consistent, and it retains the sharpness for longer periods of time. This is a knife that doesn’t sit dully in your kitchen cabinet; rather, this is the one you turn to for preparing anything between a mouth-watering beef casserole and roasted chicken.
Expect no less of a premium cutting angle and finish from its ice-hardened blade. And the curved bolster, coupled with a durable, slim handle, lets you have a more comfortable grip on the cleaver.
It does help a great deal in breaking down big chunks of meat in a professional way. The 6-inch blade is a bit short, and the fact that it has a smaller surface might make you go over the same section one more time to get a clean cut.
Since this cleaver is for regular home use, the 6-inch blade will make little to no difference in delivering the same spiffing performance as that of a 7-inch knife. You can comfortably chop the roasted chicken, stock bones, rack of ribs, and many more with this pro cleaver!
How to Use a Meat Cleaver
Using a meat cleaver like a professional call for a whole other technique; it’s not the same as that of a regular kitchen knife. Since meat cleavers are used for chopping ribs, bones, and hard vegetables, the way that you’re holding the cleaver matters a great deal. Below we’ll teach you how to use a meat cleaver.
Grip and Apply Pressure
You have to place your thumb on the handle. To be more specific, it is the part where the blade meets the handle. Curl the other fingers tightly around the handle and apply pressure with your free hand on top of it for chopping down the meat.
This technique, of course, only applies to bone-in meat, poultry, fish. Dealing with boneless meat is fairly easy because you just have to keep it steady on the cutting board with one hand and slice through the meat with the cleaver in your other hand.
Dicing or mincing meat cubes require the same skills with a kitchen knife. Butternut, squash, watermelon, and many other hard fruits and vegetables can also be sliced and diced with a meat cleaver.
Use a rocking motion with the cleaver on the cutting board when you have smaller vegetables for salad such as lettuce, tomato, cucumber, garlic, etc.
Related: Best Tomato Knife
How to Sharpen a Meat Cleaver
Let’s get acquainted with the process of sharpening a meat cleaver.
Choose a Whetstone
A 300 grit Japanese whetstone works wonderfully well for sharpening fairly new to used meat cleavers. Unless it is a very old and blunt cleaver, you don’t have to profile it on a stone before proceeding to the main steps. First up, you must remember to sharpen the cleaver from its heel and all the way to the tip consistently at an angle.
If you have experience with sharpening kitchen knives, you will notice that the preferable angle for sharpening meat cleavers is different from that of a kitchen knife. It’s because you do not want a razor-sharp, straight cleaver. It will only fold or damage the cutting edge when you chop down some ribs and meat cubes.
Maintain an Angle
We recommend that you keep a 30° to 35° angle in between the whetstone and the cleaver. In order to make sure that your meat cleaver is evenly sharp, you need to repeat the same procedure with the other side. Let’s see how the knife analyst does it! Click here to know more.
Meat Cleaver vs. Butcher Knife
Let’s compare both of them feature-by-feature.
The main difference between a meat cleaver and a butcher knife is precision. While a meat cleaver is able to produce neat cuts of meat and poultry and chop down bones of low to medium density, it lags when it comes to hard bones or large portions of meat.
Looking on the bright side, you can use a meat cleaver for preparing a wide variety of meals such as poultry, veggies, fish, and seafood!
On the other hand, a butcher’s knife has an aggressive look, and you sure won’t find it at a home kitchen in the city. These heavy-duty knives are not meant for precision chopping and slicing; rather, they are best suited for powering through bulky pieces of bone-in meat.
The beef or lamb that regular home cooks work with has most certainly passed a treatment with a butcher knife. This is the one tool butchers use right after slaughter. So, sectioning meat is more important for a butcher’s knife rather than full-on precision.
Not to mention, a butcher knife has a very thick blade, and other than chopping, you don’t have much room for versatility here. For example, dicing, mincing, and other types of refined cutting are way beyond its reach. But these are the top techniques you can perform comfortably with any regular meat cleaver.
That said, meat cleavers are sharper than butcher knives, but they are not hard and sturdy enough to chop through the tougher portions of meat. The Dalstrong Japanese 9-inch meat cleaver, with its 62+ Rockwell Hardness, can easily be the best butcher knife out there.
Vegetable Cleaver vs. Meat Cleaver
Here we’ll pit both of them against each other to help you pick among them.
Vegetable cleavers are the more refined, sharper, and lighter version of meat cleavers. For example, a regular meat cleaver will have the shape of a rectangular hatchet with a rather blunt tip. Although it is very much able to mince, dice, and slice, the sharper edge of a vegetable cleaver produces a much neater cut.
Meat cleavers are not as versatile as vegetable cleavers; when a thin slice is needed, the latter will perform with better finesse and precision, thanks to its lighter profile and honed tip. Meat cleaver will give you the best results in separating ribs and chopping bone-in meat cubes for a protein-packed meal.
If you think you would be using a cleaver for vegetarian recipes mostly, a santoku or a vegetable cleaver is the way to go.
Cleaver vs. Chef’s Knife
Here, we’ll detail their differences to see which one suits your needs best.
From chopping to slicing, mincing to dicing, a chef’s knife is the most versatile knife in any kitchen. It’s a multi-purpose knife with no definite use in particular; rather, it is an all-rounder, which is able to power through pretty much anything as long as it’s on the softer side of ingredients.
That said, a chef’s knife is no match for bone-in chunks of meat and poultry.
Let’s face it, a chef’s knife falls short when it comes to handling the more serious, festive meals. Separating the Thanksgiving turkey with a chef’s knife is a bit of a stretch because you simply cannot get both a razor-sharp blade and a large cutting surface from a kitchen knife.
That’s when the cleaver comes to save the day. The Shun Classic 7-inch cleaver will give you the feel of the best chef knife for its masterful performance.
Chopping down the bones and serving your guests whole-chicken or turkey right out of the oven will be a matter of seconds when you got a super sharp cleaver to rescue you. Last but not least, meat cleavers with their beveled edge, thicker blade, and larger surface do an equally impressive job in slicing seafood and fish as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here we have the most commonly asked queries regarding the best meat cleavers:
Q: Why do cleavers have a hole?
A: Since meat cleavers have a large profile, you cannot fit one in a regular knife block. Storing them in a drawer is also not feasible because they take up so much space, to begin with. That is why meat cleavers have a hole so that the chef may hang them after use.
Q: What is a meat cleaver?
A: A meat cleaver is the lighter version of a butcher knife; its purpose is to chop down bone-in meat, ribs, seafood, and poultry bones in a cleaner, more precise way. It has a big and thick blade for hacking through large portions of meat. Moreover, meat cleaver can also dice, mince, and slice vegetables.
Q: Why use a cleaver rather than a knife?
A: A knife is not hefty and sturdy enough to power through bone-in meat portions like a cleaver. Their slim profile puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to chopping; there’s simply not enough pressure and momentum when you’re working with a kitchen knife on meat.
Q: Should I put my cleaver in the dishwasher?
A: You should never put a meat cleaver in a dishwasher, or any knife for that matter, because the cutting edge deteriorates in the dishwashing procedure. It also weakens their durability a lot. You should carefully hand wash your meat cleaver and kitchen knives.
Related: Best Dishwasher Safe Knife Set
Q: Can a meat cleaver cut through bone?
A: A meat cleaver can cut through bone, but if it’s a dense one, you have to hack through it in a consistent manner. Poultry bones give away under a bit of pressure; so does fish and seafood.
A well-crafted meat cleaver will go a long way and bring comfort to your meal preparation like never before. We hope that you liked our best meat cleaver reviews and got brand new insights into the world of western kitchen utensils from our elaborate buyer’s guide. Happy chopping!